Pakistan's influence over Taliban has waned over the years due entry of regional powers in the game

Pakistan's influence over Taliban has waned over the years due entry of regional powers in the game

ISLAMABAD - There are no safe havens of any terrorist organization in Pakistan,” Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan said. “But we should remember there was a time there were about five million Afghans in Pakistan and so they are scattered across the country.”

In the past three years, domestic security across Pakistan has vastly improved following anti-terror operations on insurgents targeting the country.

“This is a Pakistan that has largely prevailed over terrorism on its soil,” said Khan. “But apparently the Americans continue to persist in their old ways of thinking and they continue to externalize their failures in Afghanistan by blaming it on Pakistan.”

Despite being at loggerheads with its war-torn neighbor, Khan hinted that Islamabad is willing to help arrange peace talks with the Taliban when Pakistan officials meet with Afghan counterparts in the coming days. He cautioned, however, that Pakistan’s influence over the group has “substantively” waned.

Many of the Taliban’s leaders were trained and schooled in extremist seminaries in Pakistan, and have allegedly taken shelter in cities such as Quetta and Karachi over the years.

“We will facilitate to the maximum extent we can, but we cannot guarantee anything,” Khan said. “We want peace in democratic Afghanistan so we can begin to exploit the economic benefits of regional connectivity.” ------------------------------

Failed Attempts ------------------------------

It’s yet to be seen if such talks would join the countless failed attempts to bring the Taliban to the table. Kabul has repeatedly accused Pakistan of assisting the group and affiliated militants. Islamabad has denied these allegations, but opposes increased Indian influence in Afghanistan, which Trump is encouraging. Pakistan’s military, which effectively controls security and foreign policy, fears encirclement from its arch-rival on two fronts.

Foreign Policy